Bank of America protests anything but selfish
I have been surprised by the responses written in response to a Green Action protest, an event authors perceived as embarrassing and harmful to student’s “career interests.” As a recent graduate, I am not proud to have attended the same institution which has produced such an unthinking and hypocritical response to an act of social protest.
How is it possible that student authors, whose Facebook profiles boast pictures of international travel and internships at high-profile financial companies, think they are being victimized? Especially upsetting is that the supposed aggressors are students who have dedicated time and effort to combating the greatest economic and social threat ever faced by humankind: climate change. The authors’ view is a perspective which underlies the root of enormous social problems including climate change and growing inequality, one of unchecked self-interest and a disregard for the problems to which one contributes. According to such an ideology, higher education is just a stepping stone to personal achievement. One of the claims made in a September 19th editorial, that “students have dedicated years of study in an effort to secure such a job,” shows just such a belief, a view that that personal gain, like landing a high status banking job, comes before responsibility to society and consideration of others.
Further disregard for the hardships of others comes through in a claim that it is “grueling” and “extremely difficult” to get the very jobs companies are actively recruiting students for. Perhaps the authors are totally unaware that 7 percent of adults seeking work in the United States can find no employment at all. Being in that 7 percent could, roughly, be considered “extremely difficult.” Instead of feeling outraged at their own career speed bumps, perhaps these students could get angry about the serious injustice and, in many cases, fraud, perpetrated by the very banks they wish to work for. But in the narrow view presented in the editorial, it appears difficult circumstances and social injustice are only worth getting upset about if there is a direct impact on the student’s own interests.
The editorials attacking the student protests demonstrate a complete lack of awareness of student privilege, but also reveal the truth about many of the wealthy, over-privileged students who attend the business school and other undergraduate schools at Washington University: they are out to get themselves even further ahead, not to help others or improve the world around them. That two of these students would have the gall to accuse people who take action on the behalf of others of being “selfish and attention-seeking” reveals a total lack of critical awareness and an apathy toward their own privilege, and makes me embarrassed for the them and for our school.